Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Moving so soon!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2010 by Natalie Zed

After a few short months playing with this account, I bit the bullet, registered an actual domain, and fully committed to my Zed-blog.

New address —> Natalie Zed Spits Sparks

Please update your links and visit me here in the future!

The new blog was designed by the extraordinarily talented and good-looking Adam Wills.


Charred Walls of the Damned/ Piledriver/ Ash Lee Blade @ The Opera House, July 4 2010

Posted in Concert Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , on August 20, 2010 by Natalie Zed

Here is my review of the Charred Walls of the Damned/ Piledriver/ Ash Lee Blade show (originally for that took place at The Opera House on July 4th 2010. You can read the original here, and marvel at my wondrous cell phone pictures.

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First and foremost: where the heck were y’all, Toronto? When I arrived at the Opera House at 8:15 pm, just in time to see Ash Lee Blade start up, I found myself a member of an audience composed of maybe 30 people. I’ve never seen the Opera House so empty. We were a happy and enthusiastic audience though, which made all the difference in the world; later in the evening, Ripper of Charred Walls of the Damned would comment that it felt like playing at a private party. Everyone who opted to sit this one out: all banged out after Maiden, eh?
Ash Lee Blade are certainly entertaining, embracing all the goofiest aspects of traditional metal; the lead guitarist wore a pair of white PVC bellbottom pants with black flames on them. That alone is certainly worth my entertainment dollar. In calling them goofy, however, I do not mean to be dismissive because they are a great live band. Their songs have a merciful simplicity to them, a trait that is particularly evident in the tune “Live For Heavy Metal.” Their music is infinitely singable, the kind of thing that easily gets stuck in your head. Some part of my brain is entirely piloted by Garth Algar, and that part adored this experience. Lily the Pirate dug Ash Lee Blade as well, as she has a significant soft spot for traditional metal. For me, it comes down to the fact that these guys are seriously interested in having fun, and it shows. And I appreciate that.
Next up: Piledriver. The legendary frontman/vocalist Gord Kirchin/ Pile Driver is really the band; drums, guitar and bass were all performed by members of Spewgore. Most of the band came on stage dressed like zombies in torn suits and greenish black facepaint; Pile Driver himself however, wore disturbingly revealing side-laced leather pants, a bondage harness, and a gimp/executioner’s mask covered in spikes. He’s also a huge, sweaty dude. While they operate within a completely different aesthetic, I can see why these two openers were paired up. They were both extremely fun, and did not take themselves too seriously—at one point, Pile Driver offered the crowd some belly button lint, and then demanded to know who farted when a particularly foul odour engulfed the stage (seriously though: who was responsible for that emission? It was LEGENDARY). The song “Sex with Satan” stands out as emblematic of the whole performance: amusingly gross, straightforward, aesthetically on point, thoroughly entertaining. What they perform is not high art, and because it isn’t pretending to be, it’s great.

The awkwardly-named Charred Walls of the Damned delivered a solid headlining performance. While the other bands they shared the stage with has set a decidedly un-serious precedent, CWotD were much more straightforward and earnest in their presentation. Not to say that they were stuffy or stoic. They play unabashedly entertaining power/thrash metal, but choose not to caricature themselves to the point of complete cartoonification. The have a casual, confident stage presence that suited the small crowd very well, emphasizing the house party feel of the show.

It goes without saying that every single member of Charred Walls of the Damned is a spectacular musician.Richard Christy‘s drumming arrested my attention the most. He is both fierce and neat, attacking his drum kit with a brutal kind of precision. He also makes it look deceptively easy, elegant even, the way that a blacksmith might hammer out a horseshoe in a swift, fluid motion that comes so naturally it obscures exactly how skilled the artisan really is. Steve DiGiorgio also impressed the hell out of me; he performed a bass solo that dropped my jaw. From start to finish, I was completely enraptured by the level of musical talent each band member brings to the table. The real joy for me here is not necessarily the music itself, but in how well they performed it.

There were a few things about this show that broke my sense of suspended disbelief and kept me from losing myself in the experience completely. Don Jamieson of VH1 provided a comedic interlude before Charred Walls of the Damned took the stage and managed to be spectacularly unfunny. His presence also made the performance feel more highly commercialized. This was further emphasized by the fact that both Richard Christy and Ripper wore conspicuously new Monster Energy Drink hats during the entire performance, and Ripper un-subtly sipped from a tall can of Monster as well. (Aside: Monster truly is the Nickleback of the beverage industry: they somehow enjoy complete market saturation, and yet I seem to not know a single person who actually consumes the product. Strange.) While certainly not deal-breakers, these small details kept me from fully losing myself in the performance. They annoyed me just enough that I observed the show from a slightly detached, less visceral place than I would have if their image had been just a bit more dirty, raw and real.

and good will toward

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 12, 2010 by Natalie Zed

Damn it. My first real, non-archiving, blog-ish post here and it’s going to be about my feelings.

It’s been an excellent week in Poetry for Natalie Zed. Wednesday night, I read at the 7th installment of the NOW HEAR THIS! Hear/Hear reading series with Angela Szczepaniak and Elisabeth De Mariaffi. The back room we inhabited at the Free Times Cafe was filled with a happy, responsive crowd. Angela and Elisabeth read beautifully; both of them produce (very different) work that is disarmingly funny and devastating by turns. All our work dovetailed together  into a performance that felt successful and coherent. I had a blast sharing the stage with them.

After the performance, we stayed for hours drinking cheap Creemore pints and talking about…vaginas, mostly. Popowich was incredibly patient while about half a dozen women volunteered complex opinions on placentas and the art of pubic hair topiary. By the end of the night, we’d made some solid, hilarious plans for future shenanigans involving retractable high heels and public bath houses.

Last night, I attended the launch of Sweet, the second volume of poetry by the incomparable Dani Couture. The event also served at the launch for Perter Darbyshire‘s newest novel, The Warhol Gang, and the latest issue of Taddle Creek. There were friends and veggie burgers, and free beer handed out by the friendliest Steamwhistle employee in the world. We were ambushed by a terrible hipster-folk band, and I threatened to fight someone much, much smarter than me on the topic of French heavy metal. There may have even been a huge animatronic bear.

And here is where the feelings come in: I love this. I love spending time with smart, hilarious, talented people who care deeply about things. I love that one of my poems may end up in a vending machine. I love waking up with a headache and band names written on my arm in sharpie. Every now and again, I have a week that reminds me exactly why I love what I do; this was one of those weeks.

A Love Story

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 19, 2010 by Natalie Zed

My first blog entry for Metallus Maximus, an account of how I first met heavy metal. You can read the original here.

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Like any significant meeting, my introduction to metal was not planned. In the beginning, it all came about because I am not very good at being sad. I’d just moved back to Toronto after several years away, recovering after a series of Disasters. I was just beginning to cast around socially again, looking to meet people, start projects, emerge from my cocoon. So when BK, good friend and anchor of positivity in my life, mentioned that he and Dani C were going to a metal show, I invited myself along. It seemed like a diversion, something completely different to distract me; it also seemed like an excellent chance to get to know my friends better. I didn’t even know which bands were playing that night.

We got completely lost getting to the venue. None of us had ever been to the DC Music Theatre before, and the directions we got read something like: “With a prayer to the pagan gods, leave the path. Walk beneath the bridge; answer the Troll’s riddle successfully or appease him with a joint of fine mutton. Walk through the tall grass, taking care not to be led astray by pixies. When you reach the road again, go down the scariest alley you can find. Past this point, no maps can guide you. Follow the sound of blastbeats to the door.” We eventually arrived, slightly frostbitten, and had just enough time to stow our coats at the “coat check” (an ancient red velvet couch), grab some beer, and watch no fewer than six men hoist Wolven Ancestry’s drum kit onto the stage.

At first, I retained a little bit of psychological distance. I was able to consider things academically, be aware of my own enjoyment and analyze it. I was both amused and impressed by the theatricality of the experience, complete with furs and corpsepaint; I loved the high energy level, the positivity being thrown off both by the performers and by the crowd; I enjoyed the good-natured, friendly violence. The academic in me was still in charge of my brain, still studiously taking notes, allowing me to hold the experience at arms’ length.

By the time Woods of Ypres came on stage, something changed. I began to listen differently. The shift was as profound as any alchemical transformation. It started in my chest, felt as though a fist had plunged through my ribcage and seized ahold of my spinal column. Instead of listening with my brain, I began to listen with my body. I remember, dimly, recalling the Walk Whitman line, “I sing the body electric,” and thinking for the first time I might have a real inkling of what it was about. Then I simply gave myself over to the experience, let my body move and heave exactly the way it wanted. I should have been terrified by the loss of control I felt. Instead, I was overjoyed. I found myself reconnected with the strange, sorrowful chunk of meat that was my heart.

I couldn’t know, of course, that anything significant had been set in motion. It would be several months until I was attending concerts regularly; many more months would elapse before circumstances cosmically aligned and I began to write about what I was hearing. Like any love story, there has been a gradual unfolding helped along by a great deal of luck.

So here I am, beginning of my second quarter-century of life on this planet with a completely new soundtrack. I think I’m in love.

bloody but unbowed

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2010 by Natalie Zed

The only thing I know to do when something ends is to start something new.

I’m Natalie Zed. I write CD reviews, live reviews, and blog entries for Hellbound and Metallus Maximus.  I write poetry about S&M, gastroporn, comic books, video games, and heavy metal.

I’ve never been very good at keeping my mouth shut.